RAVENS NOTEBOOK: Paul Kruger injured his medial collateral ligament

Street Talk RAVENS NOTEBOOK: Paul Kruger injured his medial collateral ligament

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OWINGS MILLS – Baltimore Ravens defensive end Paul Kruger has damaged the medial collateral ligament in his left knee, a magnetic resonance imaging exam revealed.

It’s a Grade II injury that coach John Harbaugh described as a strained knee prior to the testing.

Although surgery isn’t regarded as an option at this time, Kruger is expected to miss somewhere between two to four weeks.

Kruger injured his knee against the Pittsburgh Steelers during a 17-14 win Sunday at Heinz Field.

The former second-round draft pick from Utah recorded a sack and a forced fumble, but the play was negated by a penalty. He also batted down a pass.

This marked the first playing time for Kruger this year after being deactivated for the first three games of the season after spraining his shoulder during the preseason finale against the St. Louis Rams.

"Paul played pretty well," Harbaugh said Monday. "He was active.  There are going to be a lot of things he’s going to look at and he’s going to want to get better at. He put pretty good pressure on the quarterback a couple of times.

“Would have had a huge sack, fumble if not for the offsetting penalties there. He jumped offsides one time, had the holding penalty on the kickoff return. So, it balances out a little bit. He did a good job against the run. He played well."

Meanwhile, the news was more upbeat concerning the prospects for running backs Ray Rice (bruised right knee) and Willis McGahee (head injury).

“I didn’t think he really showed any signs of the knee issue,” Harbaugh said. “He did a great job of getting himself ready to play and looked good on Sunday. Willis doesn’t have a concussion, so he should be fine. Those guys are OK.”

Defensive end Cory Redding missed Sunday’s game with a concussion.

It’s unclear if he’ll be ready for Sunday’s game against the Denver Broncos.

“Cory, I haven’t heard anything on that,” Harbaugh said. I would assume that would be clearing up. You would hope. But with a concussion, I guess you just have to wait and see.”

There was no update on offensive tackle Jared Gaither as he traveled to California to visit back specialist Dr. Robert Watkins for a second opinion on his thoracic disc injury that has plagued him for two months.

“Jared’s just getting out there, so we look forward to hearing that report," Harbaugh said. "I’m excited to see how that goes."

NO SECOND-GUESSING: The Ravens didn’t hesitate when it came time to make a decision on whether to kick a field goal or go for it on fourth down at the Steelers’ two-yard line in the fourth quarter.

Harbaugh said it wasn’t a tough decision.

Ultimately, it didn’t work out as the Ravens planned.

Quarterback Joe Flacco, who later threw the game-winning touchdown, short armed a throw intended for wide receiver Anquan Boldin in the corner of the end zone and cornerback William Gay deflected the errant pass.

"There’s a thought, but we were on the two-yard line, and I think we’ve got a chance to win the game right there," Harbaugh said. "We have a good football team, and I’m pretty confident in our guys. We didn’t get it done there, but we obviously got it done the next time. So it proved that we could score in those situations. But you’ve got to give your guys a chance to win the game. That’s what we did."

Harbaugh gave offensive coordinator Cam Cameron the game ball.

Cameron has drawn some criticism for not getting Rice more involved at times and for not making full use of the Ravens’ downfield weapons.

"There were some calls that went back and forth," Harbaugh said. "He knows. The third-and-1 where we ran that waggle play, woo, that was tough. We didn’t get the ball in on fourth down, but the thing that I admire so much about Cam is the fact that he is unflappable. He has got ice water in his veins.

“He’s always thinking, and he takes input. If I tell him to do something, he’ll do it, but you try to stay away from that as a head coach because that’s not the best way to allow your coordinator to do his best work. Cam Cameron is, I think, the best offensive play-caller in the game. The way he kept his poise in that tough environment and came up with those calls down the stretch, I was proud of him, I was happy for him, and I know our players felt the same way."

GREAT DEBATE: Harbaugh held an animated conversation with officials in the fourth quarter when the Steelers punted out of their end zone.

The topic of debate was whether linebacker Keyaron Fox’s holding infraction happened inside the end zone, which would have triggered a safety.

It was determined that Fox wasn’t in the end zone at the time of the penalty, and the ball was moved up to the Steelers’ 40-yard line after the punt.

"That’s what I was asking," Harbaugh said. "Were they sure? Because with the ball being on the 2-, 2½-yard line, you felt there was a chance that maybe it was in the end zone. Looking at the tape, it was borderline. I could see where they would call it either way."

With how Flacco engineered the win with his 18-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Harbaugh definitely isn’t complaining about the outcome.

And he isn’t going to dwell on the what-if scenarios on the safety that wasn’t called.

"I really don’t know," Harbaugh said. "At the time, I didn’t know we were going to go down and score a touchdown. If I had known that, I would have said, ‘No, you know what, we’ll take the ball at the 40-yard line.’ But if we hadn’t scored the touchdown, I’d be sitting here, saying, ‘Yeah, we should have gotten a safety on that. All we had to do was kick the field goal.’"

NO BIG BEN: Harbaugh didn’t agree with the notion that the Ravens wouldn’t have been able to win the game if the Steelers had quarterback Ben Roethlisberger on the field.

Roethlisberger’s four-game suspension for violating the NFL personal conduct policy ended Monday.

“We were without a lot of players," Harbaugh said. "That’s just the way it works out in the National Football League, and that had nothing to do with us anyway. Whoever lines up against us every week is who we’re going to play against. The next guy comes in and wins games for you or doesn’t. I was pretty impressed with Charlie Batch though. I thought he played very well."

QUICK HITS: All-Pro middle linebacker Ray Lewis ended the Ravens’ streak of no interceptions this season, picking off Steelers quarterback Charlie Batch to seal the game in the final seconds. “I just read his eyes,” Lewis said. “I didn’t think he was going to throw it late, but he did. I just broke on it and made a play.” … As a consequence of Oregon defeating Stanford, which is coached by Harbaugh’s brother, Jim Harbaugh, John Harbaugh has to wear an Oregon T-shirt and pay out some money to defensive tackle Haloti Ngata. Harbaugh lost bets to Ducks football alums, tight end Ed Dickson and Ngata. "I haven’t got the jersey yet, and that’s why I’m not wearing it right now," Harbaugh said. "I’m disappointed in Ed Dickson because I was supposed to have to wear it in the press conference. I have to admit that I didn’t work real hard to find him today for that jersey. So I have a feeling on Wednesday, I’ll be wearing that Oregon Ducks T-shirt around. I owe Haloti a few bucks. Haloti opted for the dollar bet." … The Ravens plan to wear pink on their uniforms Sunday to support breast care awareness. … Harbaugh was impressed by Derrick Mason’s jugging catch.. “He made a huge catch on our sideline on the left side of the offense when it was out in front of him, and he tipped it up, flipped underneath it and caught it,” Harbaugh said. “I saw that one close up. That was right in front of me. I had never seen a catch like that before.” … Harbaugh said that cornerback Josh Wilson is likely to be up this week after being a healthy scratch against the Steelers. “Josh is a guy that’s going to be a big part of what we’re doing here,” Harbaugh said. “I felt really bad about the fact that we had to not activate him this game. But we did. We put the defensive linemen up. And we also have a certain number of offensive guys that we put up that kind of helped us in special teams a little bit. So, it really was a numbers game. With Josh, there’s no way he won’t be active this week, obviously, knock on wood, we stay healthy. But he’s going to be a big part of this game plan.”


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Aaron Wilson

About Aaron Wilson

Aaron Wilson covers the NFL for National Football Post as well as the Baltimore Ravens for The Carroll County Times and Ravens24x7.com. He has previously covered the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans and has covered the NFL since 1997.  He has won several regional writing awards, including, most recently, Best Sports News Story for the state of Maryland in voting conducted by the Associated Press managing editors. 

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